Episode Title: “Revenge of the Reach!”
Original Air Date: January 1, 2010
So ever since the first episode of the first season, I have not enjoyed episodes featuring the third Blue Beetle. Here we have another Jaime Reyes centered episode, so it is starting with one strike against it. I’m not sure why the creators are so determined to make me enjoy Reyes, but for some reason they just won’t quit shoving this petulant teen hero in my face. Will they finally get me to come around on the twerp? Read on to find out.
This teaser is awesome, it features the nearly forgotten team “Challengers of the Unknown”. The Challengers are a team of four adventurers that very strongly influenced Stan Lee’s creation of the Fantastic Four. Unlike the better known FF, the Challengers do not have any supernatural powers, but they do feature a test pilot, a scientist, a tough guy, and a young brash adventure seeker. They are firmly a product of the 1950’s era pop culture sci-fi movement, and they are good, old fashioned fun. This adventure has them investigating a mysterious meteor (are there really any other kind?) when Batman shows up and helps them battle a giant spider. After the spider is defeated and Batman leaves, the meteor opens up revealing that it is filled with Starro’s that attach the the Challengers’ faces and the words “to be continued…” show up on screen. This is far and away my favorite teaser to date, I love the way it feels like the “back up story” that many premier comics have contained for years. Perhaps the more appropriate comparison is to the adventure serials from a bygone cinematic era to which modern action, adventure and sci-fi properties owe so much. It case you haven’t figured it out yet, it was pretty good.
The story proper opens with my least favorite supporting character, Blue Beetle III, battling Evil Star in outer space. He’s arguing with his symbiotic suit (the Scarab) about how he knows he isn’t supposed to be on solo adventures yet, but he had no choice. Reyes quickly realizes that he is in over his head, and calls his ever present friend Paco for advice, posing his scenario as if he is playing a video game. Because Batman knows everything, he is observing the battle from his Bat-rocket, while Reyes uses Paco’s advice to defeat the villain. As Beetle rains down vicious blows on the already subdued bad guy, Batman intervenes to stop him, reminding Reyes “hey, we’re the good guys here!”.
Bats and Reyes take the captured criminal to Oa, where the Green Lanterns can put him away for safe keeping. When the GL’s see Beetle, they immediately place him under arrest (which he successfully resists). The following exposition reveals that the scarab is a weapon developed by and evil conquering race known as the Reach. The Reach send scarabs to planets to bond with a local host, making him appear to be a hero, before using him to destroy the planet. I’m not quite sure what the Reach gain from all of this, but sometimes bad people just got to be bad.
As expected, the scarab takes control of Reyes, and disables Oa’s defenses allowing the Reach to launch a full scale attack on the Green Lanterns. The Lanterns fight bravely, but appear on the verge of defeat. Reyes has an internal battle of wills with the scarab, and manages to regain control of the suit and save the day. After the invasion has been thwarted, the Guardians still demand that Reyes turn over the scarab before Guy Gardner and Bats stand up for him, leading the guardians to reverse their decision. To be honest, I’m with the Guardians here, and I would think that the events would have traumatized Jaime enough that he would want to be rid of the suit, but there is no place for logic here.
I am struggling to identify where the creators are falling short with Reyes in this show. I have tolerated Reyes well enough in the comics, and actually enjoyed his story arc in the second season of Young Justice, but something about the over simplification of the character in this show just turns me off. I have also confessed before that I just thin Ted Kord is so much a better fit for the tone and style of this series. Overall, the teaser is enough to lift this episode to the point of recommending it, but my most brutally honest recommendation would be to watch the teaser, then skip to the next episode. Yay, Challengers of the Unknown!